Monday Night Preview: Will the Ravens or Texans Keep Their Playoff Hopes Alive?
Week 12's edition of Monday Night Football features the 4-6 Houston Texans visiting the 5-5 Baltimore Ravens. Despite playing mediocre football, each of these teams remain in the playoff picture and are looking for their second consecutive win -- Houston is coming off a 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals, while Baltimore is fresh off a 23-0 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers.
With the playoff implications, this game has the making of an exciting showdown. Here are a few matchups likely to influence the outcome of tonight's game.
Joe Flacco has a horrible 9-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio this year, and it doesn't get much better when seeing he's averaging 173.4 passing yards per game. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Flacco has played just as bad as his counting stats suggest. Of 23 quarterbacks with 300 drop backs, his Passing NEP per drop back of -0.11 ranks 22nd. For some perspective, the league average is 0.07 and only DeShone Kizer (-0.24) has performed worse this season.
Plagued by their own quarterback struggles, the Texans have turned to Tom Savage following Deshaun Watson's season-ending injury. He hasn't accounted for more than 230 yards in each of his three full games since taking over and owns a 4-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Our metrics don't paint a better picture, as his -0.23 Passing NEP per drop back is far below the league average.
With each of these quarterbacks playing so poorly, an unexpected good performance could make a huge difference on Monday.
Running Back Breakdown
Following D'Onta Foreman's torn achilles, the Texans will enter this matchup with Lamar Miller as their primary running back. Among 14 runners with at least 140 carries, Miller's -0.05 Rushing NEP per carry ranks ninth, while his 38.27% Rushing Success Rate -- the percentage of runs contributing to a positive NEP -- ranks eighth.
On the other side of the field, the Ravens have been a split backfield between Danny Woodhead, Alex Collins, and Javorius Allen. Woodhead has only played limited snaps after dealing with a hamstring injury, but Collins has been the most efficient (-0.01 Rushing NEP per carry), while Allen has disappointed on the ground (-0.08 Rushing NEP per carry).
Returning last week, Woodhead immediately usurped Allen and out-snapped him 22.03% to 16.95%, according to our snap counts. However, our projections expect Allen to play 37.2% of snaps on Monday, while Woodhead is only expected to play play 18.27%. With Baltimore immediately giving Woodhead more snaps, it would be surprising if this prediction comes to fruition.
Collins is expected to lead the way with a snap rate of 46.69%, per our metrics. He's more than earned this workload and will likely play even more after being on the field for 64.41% of snaps in Week 11. Despite his strong recent play, this backfield will remain a timeshare.
Per our schedule adjusted metrics, the Ravens have the NFL's 2nd-best defense, while the Texans have slid all the way to 15th.
Both squads are lopsided in their effectiveness, but in different ways. Baltimore is 17th against the run and 2nd against the pass, while Houston is 4th against the run and 19th against the pass.
According to our models, two previous games correlate with this contest over 90% of the time.
The strongest of these correlations (90.65%) occurred between the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs on October 13th, 2013. This game ended in a score of 24-7 with the Chiefs prevailing. The Raiders scored first with a touchdown from Denarius Moore, but the Chiefs subsequently exploded with a pair of touchdowns from Jamaal Charles and a defensive score from Husain Abdullah.
In this comparison, the Chiefs represent the Ravens, resulting in a Ravens win and cover.
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